Ahmad Ali Ahsan al-Hamzi

Ahmad Ali Ahsan al-Hamzi is a U.S.-designated senior Houthi commander in charge of the Houthis’ air force.“Issuance of Cyber-related General License and related FAQs; Cyber-related Designations Updates; Yemen-related Designations; Ukraine-/Russia-related Designations; Non-Proliferation Designations and Designations Updates,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, March 2, 2021, https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20210302. According to the U.S. government, the Houthi forces under Hamzi’s command have carried out targeted Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) strikes. The United States further accuses Hamzi of procuring Iranian-made weapons for Houthi use in Yemen’s civil war.“Treasury Sanctions Key Military Leaders of the Ansarallah Militia in Yemen,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, March 2, 2021, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0043. Hamzi holds the rank of major-general.“Treasury Sanctions Key Military Leaders of the Ansarallah Militia in Yemen,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, March 2, 2021, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0043.

Under Hamzi’s command, the Houthi air forces have launched armed drones and missiles at Saudi cities. On February 27, 2021, for example, the Saudi military intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile and three armed drones over Riyadh, which they accused the Houthis of launching.“Saudi Arabia ‘intercepts ballistic missile over Riyadh,’” Al Jazeera, February 28, 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/28/saudi-arabia-intercepts-ballistic-missile-attack-over-riyadh.

The United State accuses Hamzi of receiving training in Iran, which has been a primary benefactor of the Houthis. Further, the United States accuses Hamzi of smuggling Iranian-made weapons into Yemen.“Treasury Sanctions Key Military Leaders of the Ansarallah Militia in Yemen,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, March 2, 2021, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0043. A 2018 U.N. report accused Iran of supplying missiles and drones to the Houthis.Edith M. Lederer, “UN experts: Fuel from Iran is financing Yemen rebels’ war,” Associated Press, January 19, 2019, https://apnews.com/article/b406265e1c6642fd9a614416270263b6. In January 2019, the U.N.’s Panel of Experts on Yemen reported that they had “traced the supply to the Houthis of unmanned aerial vehicles and a mixing machine for rocket fuel and found that individuals and entities of Iranian origin had funded the purchase.Ahmed Himmiche, Fernando Rosenfeld Carvajal et al, “Letter Dated 25 January 2019 from the Panel of Experts on Yemen Addressed to the President of the Security Council,” U.N. Security Council, January 25, 2019, 40, https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_2019_83.pdf. In June 2020, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reported to the Security Council that cruise missiles used attacks on Saudi oil facilities and an international airport in Saudi Arabia in November 2019 and February 2020 were of Iranian origin.“Missiles used to attack Saudi Arabia of ‘Iranian origin’: UN,” Al Jazeera, June 12, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/6/12/missiles-used-to-attack-saudi-arabia-of-iranian-origin-un.

On March 2, 2021, the U.S. government sanctioned Hamzi under Executive Order 13611 for engaging in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen. Specifically, the government accused Hamzi of using his position to procure weapons from Iran and overseeing targeted UAV strikes. The government also sanctioned Mansur al-Sa’adi, who commands the Houthis’ naval forces.“Issuance of Cyber-related General License and related FAQs; Cyber-related Designations Updates; Yemen-related Designations; Ukraine-/Russia-related Designations; Non-Proliferation Designations and Designations Updates,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, March 2, 2021, https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20210302. According to Andrea Gack, director of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Hamzi and Sa’adi “command forces that are worsening the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.”“Yemen's Houthis say U.S. is prolonging war by imposing sanctions – TV,” Reuters, March 3, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-us-sanctions/yemens-houthis-say-u-s-is-prolonging-war-by-imposing-sanctions-tv-idUSKBN2AV151. The Houthi leadership condemned the designations as proof the United States seeks to extend the war in Yemen.“Yemen's Houthis say U.S. is prolonging war by imposing sanctions – TV,” Reuters, March 3, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-us-sanctions/yemens-houthis-say-u-s-is-prolonging-war-by-imposing-sanctions-tv-idUSKBN2AV151.

United States

The U.S. government sanction-designated Ahmad Ali Ahsan al-Hamzi under Executive Order 13611 on March 2, 2021.“Issuance of Cyber-related General License and related FAQs; Cyber-related Designations Updates; Yemen-related Designations; Ukraine-/Russia-related Designations; Non-Proliferation Designations and Designations Updates,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, March 2, 2021, https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20210302.

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On May 23, 2016, two suicide bombings at a military base in Aden, Yemen, killed at least 45 army recruits and injured approximately 60 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.   

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